The Human Time

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Star Trek Fanfiction
Title: The Human Time
Author(s): Michele Arvizu
Date(s): 1977
Genre: het
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links:
art for this story by Gerry Downes

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The Human Time is a Star Trek: TOS story by Michele Arvizu.

It was published in Berengaria #9.

Reactions and Reviews

Mary Sue. Computer specialist Petra Abelard is assigned to the Enterprise for a month to work with Spock on an upgrade. All the senior officers vie for her attentions; her attempted seduction of Spock distracts him to the point of missing a computer glitch -- which then begins to disrupt systems all over the ship at the very moment that she and Spock are hiding out to consummate their relationship and Spock refuses Kirk's demands that he report to the bridge. This naturally causes problems between Kirk and Spock. However, McCoy smooths things out, Spock dutifully chooses the ship and his Vulcan heritage, and Petra departs. [1]
'The Human Time' surprised me. Its first 30 pages were purest Mary Sue, as first Kirk, then McCoy, then Scott finally fall head over slobbering love with the delicate, friendly, witty, warm, intelligent, beautiful, blue-eyed Dr. Petra (Vegan for 'My Pet') Minda Abelard. But [the author] double-crossed us -- and turned this kiddie tale around in to a sensitive, sensual story that is a real and adult as any Faddish or Poblockian piece. 'Time' is not a wholly Good Story, hampered as it is by its beginnings. But it was perhaps only a single rewrite away from it. [2]
Michele Arvizu, too, has great talent, almost great enough to make us forget that 'The Human Time' is a colossal Mary Sue story, flawed by teen-age Kirk, Spock, and McCoy interpretations. The emotional scenes are compelling though their motivations are adolescent. [3]
I never LOC zines... but in the case of Michele Arvizu, I must make an exception. I received BERENGARIA 9 and rambled through it, not expecting the pleasant surprise in store. "The Human Time" caught me off guard. For some reason — the carefully controlled slant taken by the author, I presume — the full impact of Spock's involvement did not hit me until well into the story. By then I was literally pulling my hair, wanting the two main characters to get together, and, of course they did, but...well, that would be telling — any of you fans who haven't read it, should. I am pleased that once again STAR TREK has produced a bright, new talent. Michele has a nice style, good control over her characters. I would like to see more work done in the area of plot, but then, when is that not the case? With a bit more polish, Arvizu should become a shinning light in the dark of space. [4]
Personally, I find out-of-character stories more objectionable than K/S. At least in well-written K/S, Kirk and Spock remain themselves with their own unique personality traits. But there are some "straight" stories in which the innocent Spock is seduced by the brilliant, beautiful, and seductive Science Officer or Doctor or Fair Maiden and in which he is made to act completely atypical to the Spock on TV. There is one story in particular in which Spock is so immersed in his sexual awakening that he refuses to answer repeated summonses to the Bridge during an emergency involving the ENTERPRISE. Sorry, but I can't see it! It just isn't Spock. [5]
[comments from the author, regarding the previous letter, the one in Interstat #14]: [Mary A. S.] intimates that we writers should only use the Star Trek characters in ways that duplicate or correspond exactly to situations that have already been explored in the 79 aired episodes. And if a writer expands the characters' reactions, it is a deviation and that character is now out of character. She uses as an example a story which I write. I do not mean to expound at length about my own story (The Human Time, "Berengarla" #10), but I do think the mentioning of that particular piece illustrates a point of view common to many letters of criticism I've read in INTERSTAT. To begin with, [Ms. S] is not quite correct in retelling of the story. In actuality, Spock answers the summons from the bridge almost as soon as he hears it. Although Kirk has been trying to reach him for about 20 mins., Spock cannot hear the calls because he has turned off his inter-com himself, (The emergency is not a ship-rocking one.) Only when Kirk overrides the unit can Spock hear it to respond—which he does. The dichotomy in Spock'8 mind between Human Sensuality and Vulcan Logic is the basis for this story and his later response to Kirk's call reveals the consequences of that conflict in his relationship with Kirk. Yes, Spock is "Immersed in his sexual awakening", but not at the conscious expense of the Enterprise or his duty to James Kirk—for that would be quite out-of-character for Spock.

My reasons for writing this kind of story was to expand Spock's character beyond the 79 episodes. So maybe, folks, this story is episode #179. And that would be a lot of water under the bridge, all right. For in 79 original stories, Spock could not consciously make himself explore his own sexuality except through the influence of the spores or the Atavacron or what-have-you; but wouldn't it be a very, very sad man who could never understand that he is not only Vulcan, but also Human capable of a much greater potential than the Vulcan culture alone can give him. To be true to himself, Spock must someday go beyond the 79 aired episodes to discover his own worth as a unique individual. I, as a writer, feel compelled to help him do that—or maybe, a better way to put it, is to see that he does do it. Spock cannot be thought to be out-of-character simply because he is willing to make love to a woman when in 79 aired Star Trek episodes, he could not. Our Vulcan is not exactly "seduced" either. (A word which connotes to me a sort of mindless surrender. And I've never known Spock to be mindless.) Rather the woman is really a catalyst that sets the drama in motion. I think Spock remains true to his character because he arrives at his decision through a very painful series of questions that he asks himself concerning his own values, because he realizes that Life is an experiment (as are fanzines), that Life is a series of risks. And in this story, Spock risks and loses much to experience that other side of himself.

Finally, it's true that writers do (cannot help but) manipulate characters. However, each writer must look into herself or himself to discover whether we manipulate on behalf of our own self-centered soapboxes or to expand our knowledge of a character and his knowledge of himself. It doesn't matter what the theme may be—each story should always be judged on its own merits, never on the theme. If we love the characters the way we say we do, we will respect them as the friends they are; if we care little for them, we will often exploit them. [6]


  1. from Karen Halliday's Zinedex
  2. from Menagerie #12
  3. from Scuttlebutt #2
  4. from Interstat #4
  5. a comment in Interstat #14
  6. comments by the author in Interstat #15